Barr v. American Association of Political Consultants Inc.

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: First Amendment
  • Date Filed: January 10, 2020
  • Case #: 19-631
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: 923 F.3d 159 (4th Cir. 2019)
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether the government debt-exception to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act violates the First Amendment and whether severing the exception from the remainder of the statute would constitute the proper remedy for any such violation of the First Amendment.

Respondents sued Petitioner, alleging that the government debt-collection exception to the automated call ban of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act violated the First Amendment.  Respondents and Petitioner moved for summary judgment, and the district court granted summary judgment in favor of Petitioner. Upon appeal, the Fourth Circuit vacated the district court’s judgment and held that the government debt-collection exception violated the First Amendment. The Fourth Circuit reasoned that the government debt-collection facially distinguished between calls based on their content and thus warranted strict scrutiny review. The Fourth Circuit further reasoned that the government debt-collection exception failed strict scrutiny review by authorizing many intrusive calls that the Telephone Consumer Protection Act served to prohibit, which made the exception fatally underinclusive. Petitioner now argues to the U.S. Supreme Court that the Fourth Circuit applied the wrong standard of review for its First Amendment analysis and that the Fourth Circuit improperly identified the government-debt exception as facially distinguishing between phone calls on the basis of their content where the exception instead depends on the economic purpose of a phone call. If the Supreme Court affirms the Fourth Circuit’s holding, Petitioner notes the validity of the Fourth Circuit’s remedy of severing the government debt collection exception from the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, but includes the question of the appropriate remedy for review to limit further litigation.

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